Belated Valentine’s Day Post

Valentine’s Day was as fantastic as we planned. Not everything went according to plan (I made numerous last minute changes to our menu), but we had a wonderful evening together nonetheless. The evening began with a romantic round of Super Smash Brothers Brawl in which we battled our favourite video game characters for an hour or so while dinner was cooking. We played on a team against two computer-controlled characters. See… we did something co-operative, that’s romantic and coupley, right? Whether or not this is your ideal way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we very much enjoyed the night in together, away from overly-crowded restaurants and prices that make us think we might need to drop out of school to pay for our dinner (Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit about the price of eating out once in a while).

The dinner, however, was one to remember for a while. Rib-eye steaks, roasted potatoes and carrots, and asparagus with a miso sauce. By the time we got half way through dinner, we decided that dessert (red velvet cheesecake) would have to wait until another day.

Rib-eye steaks au jus

These were some of the best steaks we have ever had at home. We don’t have a barbecue, so we tend to avoid making steak at home and prefer to enjoy it when visiting friends and family. The steaks were a bit on the expensive side, but I don’t regret splurging on an occasion! Also, the steaks were large enough that we enjoyed them over two meals.

The au jus recipe is adapted from a recipe at Steamy Kitchen. Despite making a few changes… it was so flavourful! I enjoyed the au jus more so that that which you would get at a typical pub. I wish I made more. For dipping with bread. For hot beef sandwiches. One of us may or may not have licked our plate clean before cleaning up the meal. I want more…

Ingredients

  • 2 rib-eye steaks (bone in) – approximate cost $12.00
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 carrots, sliced into quarters – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 whole head garlic, broken into quaters (leave the skin on) – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/4 cup of butter– approximate cost $.63
  • 1/2 cup red wine – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 cup water

Method

  1. Freeze the steaks (Yes, seriously, I was trying out a tip from The Kitchn).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Heat butter in a frying pan and sear the frozen steaks (approximately 4 minutes per side).
  4. Combine beef bouillon and water in a bowl, stir until well-combined.
  5. In a large roasting pan, combine seared steaks, onion, carrots, garlic, and beef bouillon mixture.
  6. Bake for 1 hour (steaks will be medium to medium-well)
  7. Remove steaks to a cutting board and let stand while you prepare the jus.
  8. Strain the roast mixture into a pot, discarding the vegetables and keeping the liquid.
  9. Heat until the liquid boils and add the red wine.
  10. Boil jus mixture for about 10 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.
  11. Pour jus over steaks and serve.
Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $4.47 per serving).

Potatoes and carrots roasted with thyme

Yummy, yummy, yummy! These roasted vegetables were great as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

  • 10 small red potatoes, halved – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a 9×13 roasting pan.
  3. Toss until the potatoes and carrots are well coated with thyme, sea salt, and oil.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the vegetables once after about 20 minutes.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $0.99 per serving).

Asparagus with miso sauce

Another recipe I am saving. I’ll be making this again when asparagus is in season in June. There’s nothing like buying asparagus fresh from a local farm. It is one of my very favourite vegetables.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.34 per serving).

Red velvet cheesecake

This cheesecake is very sweet and very rich. I had three bites and that was enough for me. Bryan’s first words after taking a bite were “Mmmmm this is fantastic!” If you like cheesecake and sweets, this recipe is a keeper. Make sure to plan ahead, there is a long period of time in which the cheesecake must cool.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.28 per serving).

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New Mexican Style Chicken Tacos

I’ve had a few vacations to the Southwest, in particular to New Mexico. Though I haven’t seen all of it, from what I have explored I can say that I think it is a gorgeous state. I love going for walks through Santa Fe, sight-seeing from the top of a Mesa, hiking to the natural hot springs.

While I can’t bring any of that home with me, I have tried to replicate some of the food! My visits to New Mexico were the first time I tasted both Mexican and Mexican-American food (aside from the beef tacos we make at home with the taco spice seasoning). I was introduced to a variety of new foods, both homemade and from restaurants. I miss the wonderful breakfast burritos, enchiladas, chile rellenos, arroz con pollo, and chicken tacos, among other things.

Since then, I’ve experimented quite a few times to recreate some of my favourite dishes. Most of the time, it’s not quite the same. However, I think I might finally be close with my chicken taco experiments. This recipe should satisfy my craving for a delicious chicken taco from El Parasol  until my next vacation.

New Mexican Style Chicken Tacos

Ingredients

  • 6 large tortillas – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes), diced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted and diced – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 small can of green chiles – approximate cost $2.00
  • 200 grams shredded cheddar cheese (optional) – approximate cost $3.00
  • Sour cream (optional) – approximate cost $2.00
  • Salsa (optional – I usually skip this topping) – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts – approximate cost $8.00
  • 2 cups of chicken broth – approximate cost $1.75
  • 1 tbsp dried cilantro (of 2-3 springs of fresh cilantro) – approximate cost $0.25

Method

  1. Bring the chicken stock to a boil.
  2. Add the chicken breasts.
  3. Cook uncovered until there is only a centimeter or two (1/2-3/4 inch) of broth left in the pot (the chicken should be cooked through at this point).
  4. Prepare the various fillings (chopping tomatoes and avocados, shredding cheese) while the chicken cooks.
  5. Shred the chicken (or chop into very small pieces). Note: You might want to remove the remaining broth from the heat during this process. It can take a while.
  6. Return the chicken to the broth and bring to a simmer.
  7. When it looks like the broth is mostly gone, add the cilantro.
  8. Remove the pot from the burner and cover it with a lid to keep the chicken warm.
Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $4.13 per serving).

Serving suggestions

There are at least two ways that you can serve this dish. One is to let everyone build their own taco at the dinner table, which is a good option if you are serving guests with allergies or a variety of food preferences. I like to build it myself to make sure there is a good balance between all of the fillings in each taco. When I prepare the tacos myself, I like to grill it for a few moments before serving, which is an optional step, it tastes great either way!

Make sure you don’t over-stuff your tortilla, this increases the chances of it falling apart during your meal. With everything on hand, remember that it’s easy enough to prepare seconds or even thirds!

These tacos can be a bit messy, so keep lots of napkins on hand during your meal! Enjoy!

Chip Dip

A few weeks back I hosted a games night for my classmates from Digital Game Theory. While I probably should have worried more about having a variety of games available for play, I was mostly concerned about what type of food I could serve to my guests. After much deliberation, I decided to go with a snack I hadn’t enjoyed since sometime before I started attending university: chip dip.

This isn’t just any chip dip recipe, this is one that comes with fond childhood memories of helping dad carefully layer the ingredients on a serving platter. We often made this dip on Sunday evenings during the winter and enjoyed the snack while watching the Sunday night movie on the Disney Channel.

This dish is easy to make and always a crowd pleaser. I am happy to report that each of my guests enjoyed the chip dip (hopefully as much as, if not more than, they enjoyed the games).

Chip Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 500mL container of sour cream – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 430mL jar of salsa (I use a red salsa, medium spiciness) – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1/2 can of sliced black olives – approximate cost $1.50
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped – approximate cost $1.00
  • 200g shredded old cheddar cheese – approximate cost $3.00

Chip dip - just add the cheddar cheese

Method

  1. Layer the ingredient in the following order:
    1. Sour cream
    2. Salsa
    3. Green onions
    4. Black olives
    5. Cheese
  2. Serve with corn chips.

Makes approximately 6 snack-sized servings (approximate cost: $1.75 per serving).

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